Twenty One Lessor Known But Equally Important Thanksgiving Facts.
1.The famous “Pilgrim and Indian” story featured in modern
Thanksgiving narratives was not initially part of the early
Thanksgiving stories, largely due to the tensions between
the Indians and Colonists.
- The average long-distance Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles,
compared with 275 miles over the Christmas
and New Year’s holiday.
- The first Thanksgiving in America actually occurred in
1541, when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and
his expedition held a thanksgiving celebration in Palo
Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle.
- The famous pilgrim celebration at Plymouth Colony
Massachusetts in 1621 is traditionally regarded as
the first American Thanksgiving. However, there are
actually 12 claims to where the “first”
Thanksgiving took place: two in Texas, two in Florida, one
in Maine, two in Virginia, and five in
- Americans eat roughly 535 million pounds of turkey on
- One of the most popular first Thanksgiving stories recalls
the three-day celebration in Plymouth,
Massachusetts, in 1621. Over 200 years later, President
Lincoln declared the last Thursday in
November as a national day of thanksgiving, and in 1941
Congress established the fourth Thursday in
November as a national holiday.
- Thanksgiving is an amalgam of different traditions,
including ancient harvest festivals, the religious
New England Puritan Thanksgiving, the traditional
harvest celebrations of England and New England,
and changing political and ideological assumptions of
- The Pilgrim’s thanksgiving feast in 1621 occurred
sometime between September 21 and November 1.
It lasted three days and included 50 surviving pilgrims
and approximately 90 Wampanoag Indians,
including Chief Massasoit. Their menu differed from
modern Thanksgiving dinners and included berries,
shellfish, boiled pumpkin, and deer.
- Now a Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries were
actually used by Native Americans to treat arrow
wounds and to dye clothes.
- In 2007, George W. Bush granted a pardon to two
turkeys named May and Flower. The tradition of
pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys began in 1947, though
Abraham Lincoln is said to have informally started the
practice when he pardoned his son’s pet turkey.
- When President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved
Thanksgiving to the next-to-last Thursday in November
to prolong the holiday shopping season, many
Republicans rebelled. The holiday was temporarily
celebrated on different dates: November 30 became the
“Republican Thanksgiving” and November 23 was
“Franksgiving” or “Democrat Thanksgiving.”
- Not all states were eager to adopt Thanksgiving because
some thought the national government was exercising
too much power in declaring a national holiday.
Additionally, southern states were hesitant to observe
what was largely a New England practice.
- In December 1620, the first Pilgrims landed and built
their settlement site in the middle of the homeland of
Wampanoag people. Several years earlier, a plague
brought by Europeans had killed the inhabitants of the
- The pilgrims most likely would not have survived without
the help of Tisquantum, or Squanto (c.1580-1622).
Squanto knew English and had already been back and
forth across the ocean to England three times (most often
as a captured slave). Some historians have suggested that
he was later poisoned by the Wampanoag.
- Thanksgiving football games began with Yale versus
Princeton in 1876.
- Baby turkeys are called poults. Only male turkeys gobble
and, therefore, are called gobblers.
- Long before the Pilgrims, native Hawaiians celebrated the
longest thanksgiving in the world-Makahiki, which lasted
four months, approximately from November through
February. During this time, both work and war were
- The people of the Virgin Islands, a United States territory
in the Caribbean Sea, celebrate two thanksgivings, the
national holiday and Hurricane Thanksgiving Day. Every
Oct 19, if there have been no hurricanes, Hurricane Day
is held and the islanders give thanks that they have been
- Thanksgiving can occur as early as November 22 and as
late as November 28.
- The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday
largely because stores hope the busy shopping day will
take them out of the red and into positive profits. Black
Friday has been a tradition since the 1930s.
- Thanksgiving is often considered the site of the first
cultural war because it contains both a narrative
of the birth of freedom and democracy as well as an
account of racism, mistreatment of Native Americans,